The Gathering 2000 -- 

Christine's Report 

  Author's Note: this even-longer-than-before essay is brought to you by Sabledrake Enterprises, proud sellers of Christine Morgan's MageLore novels. The second in the series, Dark of the Elvenwood, is now available! Click here to order your signed copy today!

Day One -- Tues., August 1
Travel and Arrival

The shuttle trips to and from the airports said it all in terms of the differences between where we
were starting from and where we were going -- the driver that picked us up in the rainy dark of a
Seattle pre-dawn had a latte in his cupholder, and the driver taking us to the hotel through the
muggy heat of an Orlando afternoon had a slushie. That seemed to sum it up nicely ...

My carry-on bag was a large bright periwinkle Gargoyles tote, and of all the ones on the conveyer
belt, they had to pick it for a "random" by-hand inspection. Of course, maybe it just looked
strange going through the machine, crammed as it was with all my junk plus Becca's six X-Men
action figures. They also hand-groped Becca's bedraggled old Tigger toy, the one she's had since
her first Christmas and takes with her everywhere. Maybe they thought the hard rattly ball in his
tummy was a grenade.

At any rate, they let us on the plane and our long day of touring scenic airport concourses began.
All three of us slept for a goodly chunk of the first leg of our trip, though I was awake for enough
of the in-flight movie to notice a familiar face -- Keith David. Had I been using the earphones, I'm
sure I would have caught the voice instantly, but as I had zero interest in listening to the gripping
saga of the pregnant chickie in Wal-Mart, I didn't. As it happens, later when talking about it with
Greg, his situation was just the opposite. He had the headphones on but wasn't watching, and
when Keith's voice came on, snapped his head right up.

Boarding our plane for the second leg, Covington to Orlando, a young woman right behind me
pointed to my bag and remarked how she "loved that show!" So I told her where we were going,
to the con and all. Would've abducted her and dragged her along to the hotel if we hadn't been
coming in early to go to Universal Studios.

Our reasoning was that none of us had ever been to Florida before, would probably not have
reason to go again (and after experiencing the heat, if we ever do go again, it'd by-gosh better
be in January!), so we might as well hit all the parks and make a real vacation of it. I told my
boss that we'd come home sunburned, broke, and exhausted. As it turned out, I was right on
only two counts, thanks to diligent application of sunscreen.

We finally arrived at the Ramada, and sorry to say it was quite a bit more drab than I was
expecting. Maybe seeing the other hotels as our shuttle dropped off our fellow travelers had
something to do with it. Our room was right by the lobby, which was convenient for check-in, but
it was almost as far as we could have gotten from the convention areas, which was something of
a drag. I understand why it was chosen and all, but the initial reaction was on the enh side.

So there we were, three weary, sweaty, crabby people. But there was one burning thought in my
mind preventing me from either collapsing or jumping in the pool with all my clothes on -- had
my books arrived or not? We'd called the hotel and they'd said no, we'd gone to the UPS online
package-tracking thingie and that said they'd arrived the previous Wednesday, we'd called the
hotel again and they said the books were there ... all of this process hampered by
communication difficulties and general ineptitude of the front desk staff.

Now we were right there at the desk, and talked to three successive people who had no idea
what we wanted. Books? Boxes of books? Simple cardboard boxes? No, no boxes ... Morgan? Are
you sure that's the name (pretty sure, yeah). I was an eyeblink away from losing it, which is
never a good thing because underneath this cute charming exterior beats the heart of a ravening
ogre, and by then all my safety systems were straining and hissing and jetting steam. But the
disaster was averted by the desk-dolts finally finding the books, and we escaped to our room
with the cartons in tow.

The hotel had two pools, one covered over by the convention area and one open right near us.
The sight of the pool instantly revived Becca and she began clamoring for a swim, but Tim and I
were just too damn beat. We got unpacked, found out that Tim's miniature diorama of the Weird
Sisters casting their spell had been damaged in transport (this began a long quest for a
convenient hobby shop or game store so he could get some paint, a quest that proved fruitless
because they were all too far to reach without an hour and a half bus ride each way or one
whopper of a cab fare; he ultimately ended up doing a temporary patch job with some of Crzy's
body paint).

At the center of the hotel is a little mall-type arrangement, with an arcade and a grocery and
some touristy knickie-knackie shops. That's also where the con suite and one of the panel
meeting rooms turned out to be. There's a deli between the lobby and the outdoor pool, and the
hotel restaurant is right beside the convention area. We decided just to eat at the restaurant that
night, for their buffet. The dinner one turned out to be nothing special, though we would later
find out that the breakfast one was much more passable.

That ended Tuesday, with all of us turning in early and the alarm set for 5:30 AM so we could
catch the bus to Universal Studios.

Day Two -- Wed., August 2
Islands of Adventure

With the Universal Studios park-hopper pass, you get in two hours before they open the gates to
general admission. That is definitely the way to go, well worth waiting for the sunrise (in already
80+ degrees) for the bus. That bus nice, with posh comfy seats and air conditioning and video
monitors showing an endless loop of commercials for U. Studios, Sea World, Wet & Wild, and
Busch Gardens.

None of us had ever been to a Universal Studios park. We chose Islands of Adventure for our first
day, thinking that Becca would like it better, and then the first thing we did to the poor kid was
scare the hell out of her by going on the Jurassic Park ride. We were the only ones, all alone in
the front of our boat, and at first all was well, toodling along, but then there were raptors, and
the ones she calls "spitty dinosaurs," and then the big T. Rex, and then a much steeper scarier
flume-plunge than even I was expecting.

That was when I was reminded that she's only five ... Becca is a bright and clever kid, but I'd
forgotten that she wasn't automatically going to know, as I did, what was part of the ride and
what wasn't. When they were sounding the alarms because our boat had gone "off course" into
the raptor area, she really believed it. The rest of the day, she kept asking me why that had
happened, and I had to keep trying to explain that they did it that way on purpose, that it was
supposed to happen.

But we got through it, though the photo monitor showed Becca with such a look of abject terror
that I couldn't bear to buy it and remind her forever of how scared she'd been. Sure, she'd laugh
about it someday, but she didn't need that souvenir. Besides, we spent enough on other stuff.

The only trouble with the early admission is that many of the attractions, shops, and food places
still don't open until nine, so we had to make several trips around to do all the things we wanted
to do. Like the pteranodon ride, zipping people along a raised track with their feet hanging. We
did the small Flying Unicorn coaster, and then Becca and I waited as Tim went on the Duelling
Dragons, one of those hanging-under coasters that you'd never get me on because I don't like
upside-down rides. Tim, though, isn't one for spinny rides, so he sat it out as Becca and I helped
Storm spin up enough electrical power to defeat Magneto. Skipped Spidey's ride and the Hulk

Seuss Landing was a big hit with Becca and helped her get over the trauma of Jurassic Park. One
of the attractions, based on If I Ran the Zoo, was a little water-squirty area, and one of these
days I am going to learn that it does no good to tell that child she can only get wet up to her
knees. She was drenched, and rode through most of the rest of the day with her shoes and socks
trying to dry out on the roof of the stroller.

The Sinbad show was loads of fun, and of course the evil sorceress Miseria had the coolest
costume (that black and purple combo with red trim works so well for so many villains!) and best
lines. The princess (Amora, naturally) whupped some butt for a change, and while the show was
peppered with pop-culture references, they weren't as annoying as those usually are. After,
Becca got a plastic scimitar, and when we came out of the gift shop one of the cast baddies was
there for a photo op, and she ran right up to him.

I completed a quest eighteen years in the making that day ... long ago, when I started gaming, I
wanted to have a bunch of fake gems to carry in my dice bag. But for the longest time, the only
ones I could find were the junky ones with flat backs with silvery stuff on, and while I tried gluing
those together, it just never worked. But when we walked into the Sinbad store, eureka! A big
bin, fill a bag with as many fake gems as you can for five dollars, and my mission was at last
complete. Well, not complete ... I wound up doing the same thing a few days later at Disney
because they had it too and their gems were even better ... I'm such a child sometimes! But I
finally had my bag of gems, and gloated over them shamelessly.

Tim got his neat souvenir near there too -- a tent featured guys hand-striking coins with your
choice of designs. He got one with a gryphon on one side and an M on the other, as the Morgan
coat of arms for his branch of the name features a gryphon. The guys at the tent were great,
bantering and seeming to be having genuine fun.

The Poseidon show, one of those hologram-water-fire extravaganzas, freaked Becca out a little
but was otherwise neat, though I confess I spent most of it not paying attention to anything
except trying to assure myself that yes, that was the voice of Tony Jay we were hearing. First
Keith, then Tony (voiced Anubis).

We had dinner at the Mythos restaurant, which had fantastic decor and a great view, but the
food seemed to be making too great an effort toward fancy and came off as pretentious. And
many of the wait staff were on the surly side, but I bet if you had to go around all day with a
nametag reading Ares, Pan, or Hera, you'd get cranky too ...

When we'd done all we wanted to do and were ready to go, it turned out we were just in time.
The clouds had been massing, and as we reached the bus shelter, the skies opened. Now, I've
seen rain before ... we live north of Seattle for crying out loud, but it had been a while since I'd
seen rain like this. Had been, in fact, since the 20-Year Celebration of the SCA, held in Texas back
in '87 or '88 (and I was cowering in a tent the whole time).

This was a thunderstorm, with huge jagged sheeting bolts of lightning, thunder that shook the
bones, and rain that really did come down in curtains. The street went from dry to flooded in
about ten minutes, and we sluiced through water all the way back to the hotel. So, obviously, we
didn't go swimming that day either! But we were home in time to catch Survivor, a show on
which Tim and I are both utterly hooked.

Then it was to bed, because we were going to do the same thing the next day. To bed, but not
to sleep, thanks to several noisy passers-by.

Day Three -- Thurs., August 3
Universal Studios

Oh lordy, this was a hot one. The previous day, we were just wussy complaining Pacific
Northwesterners (when it hits 80 degrees here, people whine), but this one was hot even for the
locals. And our feet were aching already, but this time we were smart and got the stroller right
from the front gate so Becca at least got to ride in style.

This park wasn't as good for small kids, and seemed to have much less in the way of attractions,
much more in the way of shows, tours, and the like. The Back to the Future ride was bumpy,
choppy, and not generally very good (especially when compared to Star Tours, which is great!).
Men in Black was more fun, letting you score points by shooting aliens, though our car didn't do
very well since Becca was only looking and I think one of the people behind us wasn't shooting

I dragged them on the classic Jaws ride, expecting it to be hokey and it was ... but it was also a
lot more suspenseful, a lot more adrenaline-pumping, than I thought it would be. There's just
something about that music, and about the idea of the unseen sharp-edged death coming up all
sudden-like from below! Becca loved that one and got herself a big stuffed shark, so for the rest
of the day I'd suddenly hear her going "duh-dun, duh-dun," and then she'd hit me in the rear
with it -- big target, I guess!

For her, the best things were the E.T. ride and Feivel's (sp?) play area. That one included a sort
of waterslide thing that she got Tim to go on with her twice, so she was soaked again. We also
went on the Nickelodeon stage tour, and thankfully she was not the kid chosen to get slime
dumped on her head, though not for lack of volunteering. She did get picked to help them play a
game based on The Wild Thornberrys, throwing cheese doodles at someone with a velcro Darwin
mask, and enjoyed that tremendously.

I missed out on the Terminator show, since I have never had much luck getting 3-D to work with
my glasses (yes, I know they say it fits over regular frames, but all I ever get is blur and
headache). Tim enjoyed that one while Becca and I cruised around. We saw the Ghostbusters car
but they left before we got a photo op with one of the 'busters.

We packed it in early that day, Tim's pockets jangling with squashed pennies because he and
Becca wanted to try every penny machine we found. I think we left Universal Studios with ten,
and then would get more at Disney. The clouds were threatening, but by the time we got back it
was clear enough to finally take Becca swimming.

Tim didn't join us, spending that time trying to find hobby shops. He said he ran into Denis and a
few other con people, and at one point while I was in the pool I thought I might've seen Denis go
by but without my glasses I couldn't be sure, and didn't want to rear up out of the water and yell,
and scare a stranger (duh-dun, duh-dun ...).

Later, though, showered and dressed, we went over to see what was happening at the
convention area, since the signs said registration would start at six, or eight, or whenever. We
started running into people, some familiar faces from previous years and some names I knew
from online.

Starsinger was there, and it was good to see her again. Maybe she'll come back to the comment
rooms now? She'd left because of the atmosphere in there and her tempering influence has been
missed, I think. The guy in the wild winged hat turned out to be Vig, so I finally got to meet him
and would later drool over his work in the art show

Demona May gave us a sneak peek at the art she'd brought, including many pics of characters
from my fics and some Barbies modeled after T'Chambleau, Aiden, and the twins Kenneth and
Finella from my Guardians series. Those wound up winning a prize in the art show.

A bunch of us then wound up taking over the hotel lobby, and I feared we were going to get
thrown out before the con even began when the talk turned to South Park and some folks
seemed on the verge of breaking into song. Tim and Becca and I went back to our room for a
while to rest from our busy day, and then went over to the deli for a very late dinner.

Of course, the very moment we were done, as we were about to go to bed, that's when Crzy
(henceforth referred to as Jen because that's how I know her best) and Thom and the Weisman
family rolled in. They'd been delayed, and Jen had nearly been bumped from the flight but
whipped up a convincing sob story that she and Thom were getting married at noon on Friday
and she had to be on the plane, she just had to ... it worked, though I'm sure her husband
Alan will be surprised to learn he's been replaced!

It was the moment Becca had been waiting for all year, because she's Thom's #1 Fan (junior
division; senior division goes to Lexy). We met Beth Weisman and the kids. Erin, whose sixth
birthday was coming up on the 8th, had lost a tooth in Kellie Fay's car on the way from the
airport, and 3-year-old Benny is just a doll ... I told Jen that if it ever came down to a cute-off
between Benny and her son Fox, I don't know who would win!

They all got checked in, and then Beth and the kids went to bed while Greg joined a crowd of us
on a trek for food (we Morgans, having just eaten, tagged along anyway because Becca wouldn't
be pried away from her two fave people -- Thom and Jen -- for anything). It took us forever to
get everyone collected, and then Denny's couldn't seat 15 for nonsmoking, so we ended up at
IHOP. Playing with one of those damnable triangle peg-jumping games. And then Tim went and
bought one to bring home!

A word on jaywalking in Florida: one of the bus drivers said that Orlando leads the nation in
pedestrian fatalities, and I believe it! But the lights were so far away ... we crossed in a mob at
least, and survived. In the daytime, it's all the more tempting because when the place you want
to be is air conditioned and right across the street, and the light is way down there shimmering in
the heat like a mirage ... yeah, it's tempting!

Day Four -- Fri., August 4
Convention Begins

The con really got underway well before the opening ceremonies, which weren't until late that
afternoon. Registration went much more smoothly than in previous years (for instance, the
badges were already made up).

The entrances to the dealer's room and art show were accessible either from the outside or
through the video room, so we did a lot of tromping through the video room. After all, it was hot
out there! Every time I stepped outside, my glasses tried to fog up.

There turned out to be a total of three dealers. At our table, Sabledrake Enterprises sold loads of
Gargoyles merchandise as well as copies of my books. Across the way, Abram and his team had
the complete Wintersmith Dreams as well as some calendars (I never did get around to buying
one because I was saving my money for the auction and the Villains store at Disney World, but
the calendars looked great and had terrific art). The last booth belonged to a lady whose name I
never caught, who was selling jewelry and little sculptures and things. She also did caricatures
and face painting.

The art show was as stunningly impressive as ever. I wandered through in pained awe of the
incredible talent on display. In addition to the paintings and art on the walls, there was quite an
array of 3-dimensional stuff. Crystal's mugs were fabulous (I got Goliath! I got Goliath), and
Sara's stained glass, and Kyt's miniature diorama, and Demona May's soap sculptures and puzzles
... very well done, people!

But it brings me to a bitchy little thing that's been on my mind for a while now, so we interrupt
your regularly-scheduled essay for Christine's Whiny Rant:

How come the artists can sell their work and we writers can only give it away? Just as much
effort and creativity must go into a fic as into a pic, they still many times involve characters from
the show ... there's something that seems strange and more than a little unfair about that. Of
course, artists do tend to have more of a materials bill than writers, but still ... it strikes me odd.

Many of the pieces for sale or auction in the art show are already available online, and anyone
could have printed them out on just as nice paper. Could I, for instance, bring bound copies of
my stories, done up pretty on parchment-style maybe, and sell them? I'd been under the
impression that I couldn't do that.

What would happen if I did? If I tried to sell the complete printed collection in booklet form? I
know if I tried to self-publish my fics, I'd get in hot water with the Disney people. How come the
artists can get away with it? What would happen if I did something like what Stephen King is
doing (though on a much more limited scale, obviously) and asked people to send me money on
an honor system for fics? I can't do that. Can I?

I do take commissions for stories, sure. The Silver Flame thing has been interesting and fun, but I
have had to be very careful how I get around characters that belong to Disney. I know artists,
though, who take commissions not only for original characters but also for ones from the show ...
they can charge for that, but I can't?

It isn't that I'm in the fanfic biz for money. I've written these stories because I love what I do and
I love hearing from people who enjoy reading them. But I work hard on those fanfics. I put a lot
of time and creative energy into them that I could be putting into something that might
someday be publishable.

It just rankles a bit, that's all. And in an indirect way, yes, I have profited from writing fanfic. I
have profited because it has given me the chance to practice my skills and get feedback, and also
because people who have read and liked my stories are the people who trust me enough to buy
my MageLore books.

Where it really gets weird, at least for me, is when someone else is selling artwork of my
characters. I'm not allowed to make any sort of money off of characters like Jericho or Aiden,
but the artists can? I mean, you go artists, more power to you and all ... I admire your talent and
skill, and am flattered as all get out that I've come up with characters compelling enough to

But how come an artist can profit from my creation when I can't? LOL, I mean, where's my cut?
Where's my complimentary copy? At the risk of tooting my own horn here, some of those pics
aren't just selling because they are neat-looking gargoyles ... they're selling partly because of
who the characters are!

I wonder if Greg and the gang feel that way about the same thing happening with the official
characters. I've been to plenty of cons and seen portraits of Star Trek, Star Wars, Highlander,
Xena, you name it ... I wonder if their people feel that way too.

Well, that's enough of that; I'm supposed to be reporting on the con! Onward!

The Radio Show auditions began that morning. Becca and I went to Dunkin' Donuts in the hot
and ucky weather, and generally hung around the dealer's room meeting people and selling stuff.
At one point, we saw Beth and the kids out in the covered pool, which the convention lobby
overlooked through a set of floor-to-ceiling windows. We went out to say hi, and Becca really
really wanted to join them but we didn't have the time just then. I also managed to slip on the
wet bricks and bang my knee, always the same knee, and earned a big ugly purple bruise.

Coming back in, I got to meet Craig, one of the gang from Steve Jackson Games' Pyramid
magazine boards. I mentioned that I was going to the con, Craig said he lived near Orlando, so
he came over for the afternoon! Luckily, he's a fan of the show, and of my fic, so he wasn't
surprised at my reputation (well, he also knew me for my GURPS Sex article, which even pre-
dated my fic, so I suppose there was nothing at all to worry about!)

After that, we headed over to the con suite for the Ice Cream Social, and Becca made a huge
mess of her face. We caught the very end of Thom's talk on acting, and he gave out sheets that I
assume (since I know nothing of the business) were a photo resume sort of thing. I got a signed
one, even!

My reading was scheduled for 4 PM, which was conveniently the very time the hotel desk finally
got organized enough to start letting people into their rooms. Until then, everyone had been
hanging around waiting. Then they all disappeared, and I thought I'd be in there by myself. But a
few people trickled in, and then a few more and more, until I had a nice crowd of folks. Many
that I recognized, and quite a few of those who confessed that they read all my stories but never
got in touch, the "silent readers." The ones that must think I'm dangerous, maybe ... <g>

I read a scene from the second half of the book, in which Solarrin pays a visit to Thanis in time to
find out that his old friends have gone haring off to the Emerin in hopes of stopping his evil plan.
I also talked a lot about myself and my writing, because once you get me going (as this already-
lengthy essay attests), it's hard to shut me up. Jen and Kenna booed Alinora at every
opportunity, as for some reason they've totally got it in for that helpless innocent elfmaid thrust
by cruel circumstance into a foreign time and land ... it's hardly her fault!

After that, a gratifyingly long line formed at our table in the dealer's room, and I happily courted
writer's cramp while signing copies. We did rather well, and sold several of the first book too, so
a huge thank-you to everyone who bought some and helped me out! Remember, someday when
I'm a famous author, you knew me when!!!

The opening ceremonies were that evening, and we all greeted our guests of honor. This year, in
addition to Greg (who is really tired of us asking if we've scared him off yet; he loves the
attention and I don't think we will ever get rid of him now!) and Thom Adcox (who was gung-ho
one of us right from the beginning), we had character designer Greg Guler and storyboard artist
Vic Cook ... both of whom had something of a stunned look at least at first.

To kick things off, the jalapena-eating contest gave several self-punishing contestants bellyaches
that I don't even want to think about. The fumes alone made my eyes water and prevented me
from getting closer than fifteen feet to the table, and they were eating those things! Gack! The
winners, Slash and Ashlee's Dad, tied at seventeen. Seventeen. Ouchie.

Greg told the familiar stories of how the show came to be, how they ended up with so many Trek
actors, and good stuff like that. He can't believe we keep wanting to hear them again and again,
but by now he's got it down to a snazzy presentation. As always, the video pitches and clips were
a big hit.

The charity for the auction had changed at the last moment (due to some scandal or disaster that
I never got the full scoop on), to the Make A Wish Foundation. We had a very special guest with
us in Ashlee, whose Wish had been to come to the Gathering. She went home loaded down with
goodies, like scripts and posters and I don't know whatall, and I hope she had as great a time as
she seemed to be having! Saturday night I had a great talk with her mom that made my day;
more on that later.

During the ceremonies, Becca invited Erin and Benny to play with her in the corner, as she'd
brought a whole suitcase of toys and crayons with her. They had a great time, and whenever
Greg would put in a video, they'd all run over in front of the television. At one point when I was
checking in with them, Benny insisted on showing me his Superman big-boy underpants, of which
he was most proud. Bit of a mommy-bonding moment for me and Beth when she came rushing
over to collect him.

Not at all a reticent child, Benny would holler Becca's name all the way across a crowded room
and throw himself at Jen, Siryn, or me at the drop of a hat. Erin was more reserved but very
sweet and polite, and colored a picture in Becca's book with her name so Becca could remember
her. The tooth fairy visited the hotel for her, too.

A particularly interesting event came when Chris Rogers and Hudson got up to address the idea
of incorporating and organizing the fandom. It's an exciting idea, a lot of work, but I think it
would be a great thing. Membership fees, mailing lists ... I'd love to do a quarterly newsletter and
talked to Greg, Thom, and Abram Wintersmith about doing regular columns. Hopefully, more
structure would cut down on the amount of bickering and infighting (of which I admit having
been a part, or more frequently a cause). We're only going to get bigger and better, and we need
to keep it organized.

Between the opening ceremonies and the showing of Starship Troopers, we went back to the
room for a little rest. I was supposed to be at a G2001 staff meeting, so when the phone rang I
picked it up with a sarcastic "Yes, dear," thinking it was Jen ... it was the front desk! Because I
had a delivery! They sent a bellhop over with a large beautiful floral arrangement from Christi
(Spike), congratulating me on the book. I took it along to the dealer's room the next day so
everyone could enjoy the flowers instead of leaving them sit in my room all weekend. Thank you,

Then Tim and Becca went across the street to Chuck E. Cheese while I attended a G2001 staff
meeting. Next year is the Big Push, in L.A. We sold special advance pre-registrations for the one-
time only price of 20 bucks, with a guarantee of a t-shirt for those who turned out not to make it
after all. I think the grand total for the weekend was 75 paid registrations, which is a great start!
Watch for a website to be up soon with many details about guests, panels, contests, and more!
Kathy and Patrick really worked their tails off on that, and Tim helped out as well.

I had never seen Starship Troopers, since it was always on some weird channel or at some weird
time. Greg brought some of the episodes, and from what I watched before I gave in and realized
we had to sleep, it looked very good though not usually my thing. Becca would have stayed up all
night watching them, but we persuaded her to get to bed.

Day Five -- Sat., August 5
Convention Continues

We decided to try the breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant, and found it to be far and away
better than the dinner one. Tim gave high marks to the omelet bar, and I stuffed myself on
watermelon and those little mandarin orange slices.

Most of the day's convention programming was devoted solely to the radio show. While I
understand why this happened (as I hear it, con staff wanting/expecting to be in the show led to
the scheduling of nothing else during the rehearsals), there were plenty of people left over with
nothing to do during that time slot.

Hard to believe that, with the somewhat scanty amount of programming, we almost lost the
fanfic panel and had to make a fuss beforehand! And then the poor fanfic panel got shuffled
around like the unpleasant relative that nobody wants to care for. Tsk. It did wind up happening
eventually, though.

I didn't attend the radio show but heard good reports from those who did. During the
performance, I minded the Sabledrake table in the dealer's room while Tim took Becca swimming
and for a nap. Since most everyone else was watching the show, I had the chance to spend a lot
of time hanging out with Abram and others of the Wintersmith Dreams team.

I'd forgotten to on Friday, but finally remembered to bring out the binder full of Michael Heitz's
terrific cartoons, and we wound up with a large crowd enjoying them. Hadn't realized he was a
friend of Guandalug (I know I spelled that wrong, and I never was able to pronounce it, but
anyway he and Duncan came all the way from Germany again and every time I hear someone
wailing about how far the Gathering is from their home so they can't go, I think of them, or Rene
Modesto, or Denis ... come on, people, these guys are crossing oceans, so quitcher bitchin!).

The fanfic panel finally wound up happening after the radio show. The panelists were myself, A
Fan, Jenna, Mandi, and Kellie Fay. We didn't have a directed topic, maybe we should have, but
we all just ended up talking about what we do and what we've done with our various stories and
series. Heard some wowsers of thunderblasts during, and then, right as we were about to wrap
up, the power went out.

I later found out that a palm frond had collided with the wires, leaving the hotel in the dark for
well over an hour. This happened right before the banquet was due to begin, and the first half of
dinner was conducted by candlelight (and the jittering blinding bursts of flashbulbs as we all tried
to take pictures).

The seating at dinner was done partly by lottery. Greg and his family were at one table, Thom at
another, Greg G. and Vic at still another. Then, tickets were handed out to the attendees and
Becca helped Sara do a drawing to see who'd sit where. Much to my surprise, I won a spot at
Thom's table. So did Lexy, and Heather and her mom (the odds of that were incredible!), and
someone whose name I never caught. Also at our table were Siryn and Sara, as part of the con
staff privilege.

The theme was Mardi Gras, with crowns and coins and necklaces and masks serving as
centerpieces. Becca came home with at least a dozen of the coins and various other souvenirs.
The dinner itself was buffet style, and the food was all right though another dessert option might
have been nice (not that I need the dessert, it just would have been nice <g>). Each table was
also given a trivia quiz with some really hard questions, and we did our best to guess.

During the post-dinner question and answer session, Lexy tried yet again to get some info about
Lexington's future love interest. And once again, Greg wouldn't give. He does enjoy tormenting
us, doesn't he? And speaking of Lexy, talk about dedicated ... she has audio tapes of all Thom's
radio commercials! I remember driving along with Becca once when a Washington Mutual ad
came on, and she started bouncing around in the back seat yelling "Thom! It's Thom!"

We Morgans scooted out to get started on our costumes, so never did hear the trivia answers or
find out who won. We trekked all the way back to our room (Jessie and Amy were a few feet
further, being next door to us) and began our transformation.

Tim had worn that moustache for eight years. He started growing it right after we were married.
To see it shaved off into the hotel sink was a shocker, leaving his face looking very bare. He was
told several times that it made him look younger, and while I know it was meant as a
compliment, Tim's weird and has always wanted to look older than his years!

He went as Owen, and the final effect was actually pretty damn eerie. We sprayed his hair blond,
he made himself a stone glove that turned out quite well, and found the perfect suit (hemmed
with, you guessed it, a hot glue gun because I can't frickin' sew <g>). I chose to go as my fanfic
character and part-time Mary Sue, Birdie Yale, complete with press-on rose tattoo ... gosh I
looked like a tart!

And Becca was Bronx. I told her I didn't think I could do it. I mean, come on, I can't sew, and I
got away with hot gluing her Lex costume, but this was tricky and daunting to say the least! I
tried to talk her into something else. Little Elisa, maybe? But no. It was Bronx, or, failing that,
"evil robot Lexington" by Future Tense-ing up last year's costume.

Amazingly, I pulled it off. Had to double-dye a turtleneck and sweatpants, and that hat gave me
all manner of grief because the dye wouldn't hold. I ultimately spray-painted the bastard, and
then when we finally took it off her, she'd sweated her head blue! But the results were better
than I had any right to expect.

Becca loved it, and it was a big hit right up until the Sunday evening awards ceremonies when
they stiffed the kids division and didn't give them prizes. True, there were only three of them,
Erin and Benny as karate-practice Fox and Xanatos even demonstrating until Benny got carried
away and started whaling on his sister, and then both of them got carried away literally by their

It was an impressive show of costumes, even more than previously, I'd think. We had a lot of
actual characters from the show for a change, including: Wedding Night Demona (Jen), Maggie
the Cat (Kathy), Titania (Jessie) and Oberon (Denis), Owen (Tim), Vogel (Green Baron), Elisa as
Belle (Sara and Andrea), Goliath (Lanny), Battle Armor Xanatos (Tony), Trenchcoat Xanatos
(Coyote), a couple of versions of Fox (Noel, in an auburn wig that was actually a really good look
for her, and Mara in a long vivid orange number), and the winner of the Gorebash Memorial
Award, Patrick Toman as Captain Maria Chavez!

Poor Patrick ... he suffered for that ... Jen and Kathy and I talked (nagged/browbeat/cajoled) him
into it, and then Aimee did his makeup. How could he stand against four iron-willed women? Sara
pointed out that we have yet to go a Gathering without at least one cross-dresser in the
masquerade; Heather was Hudson last year, Becca's gone as Lex and Bronx, and of course the
infamous Gorebash-Elisa. I understand Patrick is already being beset with suggestions for next
year ...

And Mitch went as Jericho. Sans wings and tail, regrettably, but he was buff and blue and his
loincloth was scanty, so I sure wasn't going to quibble! Then, to the catcalls of all, he liplocked
Jen in her Demona costume (what the hell, they were both already blue). This would have been
the year to do a reading of Demon Whispers, or a live-action skit from The Pure and the Profane!
<g> Later on, and I missed it but saw the pictures, he and Lanny faced off for a battle of the
hunks. The Men of the Garg Fandom ... like those firefighter calendars ... we should be selling
those to fund the Gatherings!

But to give cheesecake equal time with the beefcake, let us not forget the ladies! Aimee in her
skimpy cat-someone costume (anime, probably, but I am ignorant), prompted Dark Horse to
remark that the view was worth the 580 miles of driving to get there. Ylla didn't need a costume;
her tiger-striped dress was eye-catching enough! Many of the fae were showing legs and
cleavage. And the winner, whose costume and wings were every bit as impressive as her bare
midriff and legs, was Dreamie.

Yes, the masquerade was a visual feast for all! Woo-woo, as Becca would say. And my word, we
are a talented bunch! Slash (great snakeskin-pattern wings!) played guitar, and his mom the
Celtic Witch recited a poem, dethroning last year's Best Couple, Tony and Andrea.

But last year's Best Couple wasn't through yet ... I don't know if this is the full story, but as I
heard it, they met last year when he was Dracon and she was gargoyle-Elisa, and this year,
right in the middle of the dance floor, he went to one knee and produced a ring and popped the
big question. And to rousing cheers, she said yes and they kissed, and Greg loudly suggested
they have the actual wedding at next year's Gathering! I don't know if they will, but wouldn't that
be great?

So many fantastic costumes! Alison was purple with a big green mohawk, Kythera had the best
roar, there was quite the parade of denizens of Avalon, and all the while some other group was
having a private party outside by the pool ... what they must have thought, I can't begin to
imagine! It was a shame that Jannie was unable for last-minute medical reasons to join us; she
was to have been Anastasia Renard to Denis' Oberon and Jessie's Titania, and I'm so sorry she
had to miss out. There had been talk of getting everyone to sign a big card for her, but if it ever
happened, I didn't find out about it. Wishing her all the best, with hopes for a speedy recovery!

Greg had a couple of weird moments with the realization that Tim-as-Owen looked just like one
of his college roommates, and so did Aaron (who was considering getting the Demona "evil
shouldn't look this good" done on his back to match the other one on his chest).

Such fun! We partied for a while, took loads of pictures. There was limbo going on, there was
dancing going on (Bronx danced Owen and then with Jericho), I heard much about the Green
Baron's harem (apparently he even caught the eye of the hotel waitress), and finally we just had
to go back and get cleaned up.

I can't help feeling sorry for the maid service, because there must have been a lot of icky
bathrooms in the aftermath of all that body paint. Our tub was yellow-brown and silty-gritty with
the residue of Tim's hairspray, and Jen said their bathroom looked like the Easter Bunny
exploded, all blue and purple and green. But when I was back to my regular self, I said
goodnight to Tim and Becca and went back to see what was going on. I'd promised to bring my
copy of the video George Lucas in Love to show Jen, so I toted that along.

The party was still going, with CDs alternating with Slash's guitar. Greg held court in one corner
of the room, surrounded and basking in the attention. Then someone got ahold of a hat, I think it
was Meredith's hat, and they put on Michael Jackson, and the moonwalking began. Jen, Lanny,
Siryn, and several people much younger, fitter, and more limber than myself started doing
cartwheels and flips, while I sat there reviewing what I knew about cervical-spinal injuries ...

After that, some of us went back and took over Patrick's room (the torrential downpour that went
along with the thunderstorm that led to the power outage had also caused Jen's room to get
flooded) and watched the video. If you haven't seen it, I heartily recommend it, funniest damn
nine minutes I've ever seen! But now Jen is after me to write something similar based on you-
know-who, and after what he said about his college roommate ... no, no, I can't, he'll kill me! Bad
enough that I did that silly Gathering Quest snippet!

It got to be about four in the morning and we were on the verge of incoherency when the
evening finally broke up. The chivalrous Green Baron (a cutie at any time but with his suit jacket
off, collar undone, and sleeves rolled up, mmrrow!) walked me home, and I crashed for about six
hours, hoping to be conscious in time for Sunday's life-drawing session.

Day Six -- Sun., August 6
Convention Concludes

It'll probably be weeks before Becca's back on any sort of normal sleep schedule, poor kid. Con-
goer in training ... she may as well get used to the insane hours and living on pick-up junk food,
since her folks are gamers and she'll be to many more over the course of the next several years.

We dragged ourselves to the dealer's room and set up again (the room couldn't be locked
securely enough for any of us to feel comfortable leaving our stuff overnight, so it was back and
forth, back and forth, rather irritating actually). I caught the very opening bit of Greg's
scriptwriting panel, then slipped off to the con suite for some caffeine.

I'd missed the ten o'clock drawing session, the Eve one, but Adam was due to start around
eleven-thirty and that was the one I'd promised to attend. Which was a battle in and of itself ...
there were some who thought that the only reason I wanted to attend was to have me a gawk at
Adam's bod. I tried pointing out that photography was an art -- no dice. I tried suggesting that if
a picture's worth a thousand words, I could just write -- no dice there either.

Siryn and Karine were in charge, and I think they were also worried that not only would I be
there just to gawk but that I'd also be unable to keep my yap shut, thereby embarrassing the
model and ruining the session and so on. Even with my promise to be on my best professional
behavior, I wasn't sure they'd even let me in the door. Was wondering if I'd have to reveal that
I've been drawing under a pseudonym for a while now and have even entered MGC several times
(won a Creativity category runner-up once, too, even!).

But they let me in, and to think that they were worried about me! It was the others who were
acting up ::coughcoughalinsonjenaimeecoughcough::, and I thought I behaved myself very well
indeed. It was certainly interesting. I hadn't had an art class since high school sophomore year
(1983, omigod, before many of the fandom were even born), and then we never drew people.

I was initially a little flustered, truth be told, but that quickly gave way to sheer aesthetic
admiration. He's so vain, goodness knows, and me even mentioning it is just going to make it
worse, but I have a certain fondness for colossally-egoed folk like myself <g>. And he
encourages me ... so I don't need to worry about making him uncomfortable the way I'd be
worried about making others uncomfortable if I raphsodized endlessly about their bods.

So I'll go ahead and mention the luscious golden-tan glow of his skin, the smooth play of his
muscles, the long clean lines of his limbs ... the man is a Ferrari in human form, and he should
be vain ... he should be allowed to be naked all the time as a public service!

Luckily, I didn't make a total idiot of myself on the sketchpad, either. Because our model
demanded to see, and other people were looking at each others' work, and to the surprise of
many, I actually ended up with a more or less recognizable figure. Not bad for a chicken-
scratcher like me, eh?

Then it was time for the auction. Or at least that was the plan, but it was subject to delays. The
autograph session was going on -- Becca showed me where Thom had signed her hand, and
when I inquired about it, she defensively said, "He drew on Jen first!" and it was true, because
she also had his monogram on her arm.

There were only a few things this year that I didn't have (should I bring up again how Seth kept
outbidding me that one year, and make him squirm? too late <g>), and nothing that I was
absolutely dying for, so I left Tim to his own discretion and headed off for the "Bend it, don't
break it" fanfic panel.

I later heard some stuff about the auction, including that the storyboards for the Mirror episode
went for some ungodly number in the 800's, and that one of the scripts did similarly well. Tim got
me the bus poster, so now I have both, though the new one got a little crunched in transport and
had to spend some time under boxes of books to flatten it back out.

All weekend now, people (especially Green Baron and Denis) had been asking me about the
infamous Madame Destine. I hated having to lie to them, felt really bad about playing along with
this whole big weird secret ... but part of me, that evil part that I know so well, wanted to really
mess with their heads. <g> Guys, what were you expecting? It was as if you wanted a ringside
seat for this monumental meeting, that when she and I were face to face it would unleash some
explosive burst of sexual energy that would turn the whole con into a giant orgy ... and I was so
tempted to tell you something like, "Oh, sure, I met her this afternoon at the pool, and she asked
me to rub suntan lotion on her back ..."

The auction started just as our panel was supposed to begin, so we hardly had any attendance
(fanfic, shoved and shunted aside like that unwanted relative, or does it just seem that way to
me because it's my favorite part of this fandom?). On the way there, Green Baron pondered
aloud if there even really was a Madame Destine, or if she was made up. Then he asked me if I
was secretly Madame Destine. Good grief! Aren't I busy enough?

But I got up there alone, and then Kathy and Patrick joined me, and dropped the bomb. They
were Madame Destine, her genesis partly a backlash of the struggle and frustration they often
encountered in their work with TGS (those Standards and Practices getcha every time). Themes
that could not be explored in TGS could be taken in new directions under the pen of Madame

So there we had it. Two of the most stable, hard-working, respected writer/editors from TGS
were living a secret life of naughty wildness. As Kathy said, it's always those quiet ones you've
got to watch out for!

Though sometimes it's also the outspoken ones ... after the panel, while most of the rest were
watching the sneak peek at 3x3 Eyes, I had a date with a camera. Mitch had asked me to help
him out in building a portfolio for his moonlight career as a life model. My mother's a
photographer, so I've picked up a little from her over the years, and hoped I wouldn't do too bad
a job.

Since both of us were pretty new at this, all things considered I think we did pretty darn good, as
a matter of fact. We shot two rolls on my camera and finished off one on his, out by the covered
pool. Drew some lookie-loos, especially this pack of kids trying to figure out what the heck we
were doing (wasn't it obvious? taking pictures of the guy in various stages of undress!). We even
got to try those shots where he's surfacing out of the pool with water streaming and flying.

The original plan had been to send the film to Mom to have her develop them in security, but
Mitch being Mitch, couldn't wait to see the results. So as soon as he was dressed, he rushed off
to find a one-hour photo place. Double prints and all, so I expect a few for my scrapbook! <g>

Some of us had made plans to do dinner before the closing ceremonies. and Thom dragged us on
a forced march all the way to Red Lobster. We only had a dozen or so this time. Going around
the table -- Greg, Erin, Tim, Becca, me, Mitch, Alan (Winter Wolf), Kenna, Kathy, Patrick, Jen, and
Thom. Mitch brought his photos and while the others waited for a table, he and I snuck off to the
bar and looked.

The food was great but the service and seating and long walk to and fro was slow, so we soon
realized we were going to be late for the closing ceremonies. With two of the guests of honor, no
less! We really did try to call, but Jen's phone batteries were dead and Mitch's wasn't working, so
we had to scarf our food and scramble back, and were almost an hour late. Thom ran on ahead,
but especially those of us lugging kids had a hard time keeping up.

We made it, though, and found that Hudson had been keeping the crowd entertained. Sara and
her team gave out the awards for the art show and the costume contest (but not the kids'
division, boo hiss, I cornered Sara later and made a fuss because Becca kept asking me where
her prize was and dammit I worked hard on that Bronx suit; Sara found Becca a ribbon and a
size-small Gathering t-shirt that she's been using as a nightie ever since, to get me off her back

At the end, the G2001 team set up in the back to take more pre-registrations, and there were
things to sign for the con staff, and a lot of mingling. It was during this mingling that one of the
best parts of the con for me happened. I was approached by Ashlee's mom, who told me
something that made my day.

Ashlee had come to the con thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation. Her initial Wish, according to
her mom, had been to bring back a new season of the show, because watching it had helped her
when she was feeling low with her illness and she thought it might have the same benefit for
others. But even Make A Wish can't do everything, it seems, so her second choice was to come to
the con. Her parents were a little dubious -- how did they know we were legit, we were okay
people, we were worth it? So Ashlee tracked down my essays from previous years, and those
helped ease her parents' worries.

Hearing that made me feel so amazingly good ... I know that many who haven't been able to
attend the Gatherings have taken some small comfort in being able to read all my ramblings
about them, but to learn that they actually were able to help bring someone to join us, to
convince someone's parents that we were good folks ... that is a great honor and compliment,
and I am so very glad it worked out! I hope Ashlee had a wonderful time, and that we'll see her
again next year!

It was Tim's turn to stay out late, so he went wine-tasting with Mitch and then, when Karine and
her fella (our other Patrick) didn't want much, the two of them wound up polishing off three bottles. This on top of the drinks they had at dinner must've meant my man came stumbling home, and if 
he did any midnight swimming or otherwise cavorting with Jen and company when he ran into 
them, he glossed it over in the re-telling (my mom, after seeing last year's pics, wanted to know
who the hell was that woman hanging all over my family <g>).

Me, I slept. Like a dead thing. Becca kept wanting to talk to me, and I don't know what I may
have agreed to ... I would have said anything if she'd only hush up and let Mutti sleep!

Day Seven -- Mon., August 7th
Disney World MGM Studios

I spent much of this week trying to remember if there was a technical name for the torture that
involves beating the bottom of someone's feet with a rattan stick. Couldn't ever recall it, but by
the time we were ready to go home, I sure knew what it might feel like!

We hauled ourselves out of bed with great difficulty in time to catch the 11-ish bus to Disney
World. I think the plan was to meet in the lobby at nine, but for us at least that was unthinkable.
We went over on the bus, which dropped us off way out at lonely slot 140 in the parking lot of
Epcot, and from there caught another bus over to MGM.

The first order of business was a stroller, and these ones turned out to be a bit of a problem
because Becca was too tall for the roof, resulting in a huge mangled snarl of hair every time she
got in and out of it. She soon got tired of me chasing after her with my comb, and I soon decided
that fine, she could look like a cavekid, I didn't care anymore.

We caught a lot of shows. The Indiana Jones stunt spectacular was a hit, and Tim almost spent
fifty bucks on a leather hat but decided against it ... at least for now. He's always resented that
hats have gone out of style, and would have been happy living in a film-noir world.

After she hated Back to the Future, I was braced for Becca to be disappointed with Star Tours.
But that wasn't the case; she loved it. And those Fast Passes are a great thing! We zipped on
through, and when you've got a kid with you, believe me, those lines seem all the longer.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame stage show was very good, but very frantic as they tried to rush
the entire movie into a half-hour. Esmeralda was a dish, which pleased Tim as he tolerates my
thing about Goliath (and Obi-Wan, and Agent Cooper, etc.) as long as I tolerate his drooling over
certain sexy gypsy girls. I took plenty of pics of her for him, too, and bought him Marie Norre's
gargoyle-Esmeralda from the art show.

As Becca was waiting in line to hug Tigger, along came Jen, Kenna, Patrick, Karine, and her Patrick. The bunch of us went to the animation show together -- rrahr, rrahr -- and then we had to go for our Fast Pass to the Little Mermaid show. Giant robot Ursula, very cool.

And then I spent all my money. We found the Villains shop. I got a Chernabog pin, a T-shirt, a
set of pens, a notepad, a license plate, a windup walkie Maleficent dragon, oh, all sorts of stuff.
And a sorcerer Mickey for Becca. While I was there, I started talking to the clerk about why they
didn't have a plushie Chernabog. He laughed, said that if they did, they couldn't keep it on the
shelf. Now, isn't that the idea? They'd sell like crazy!

Ooh, Chernabog ... it's partly his fault I got so hooked on Gargoyles anyway ... other girls my age
had crushes on Speed Racer, but me, I liked Chernabog and the foxy version of Robin Hood.
Warped from early on, that's me. I was delighted to get to see him on the big screen in the
animation show, and then again in Fantasmic.

Fantasmic itself was horrendously crowded. An hour before the 9:15 show was due to start, they
were already only to standing room only. So we stood. Well, initially we sat, on concrete steps.
But when the show started, people began standing up, and some clown behind us kept hollering
"Sit down! Down in front!" and I came very close to rounding on him and pointing out that they
didn't call it "sitting room only." Sheesh.

The astonishing bit was, as the close to 8,000 people filed and crowded out at the end of the
show, we spotted some familiar figures. Greg and Beth and the kids were retrieving their strollers
at the same time we were looking for ours. The Weismans looked twice as beat as Tim and I felt,
which is understandable as they'd been riding herd on two kids for a longer day. Benny came
bounding out of his stroller jabbering excitedly about the show we'd just seen, and Greg gave us
sort of a shell-shocked smile and announced wearily that they were going back to the hotel.

So were we, though they had chauffeur service via Kellie and we got to retrace our route back to
Epcot and then out into the vast empty parking lot to wait for the 11:30 bus back to the Ramada.
That one wasn't on the printed schedule, but had just been announced by the driver, so we
joined a fellow group (including Kythera and Raven and a few others from the con) all hoping we
hadn't misheard. And it got later, and later, and more and more deserted, and then finally one of
the small busses showed up. For about twenty of us.

But we all piled in, three people having to stand up, four or five of us with unconscious children
pasted sweatily to our laps. The bus shimmied and swayed alarmingly on the road, and bottomed
out badly when we got to the driveway. But we got there in one piece.

Day Eight -- Tues., August 8
Disney World Magic Kingdom

We managed to get up and get going early enough to meet Jen and Patrick for a farewell
breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Sara had given Tim a good deal on leftover merchandise (and
here I thought we were going to go home with fewer bags, dopey me!) and also had a bunch of
t-shirts from G99, and we had to send one of those home with Jen as we'd exceeded our luggage

While waiting for the 9:45 shuttle, we saw Alison and Rene, and sat near Bud-Clare and a friend
of hers whose name I can't recall but who very kindly gave us a ponytail holder so I could try and
keep Becca's hair in line. As it turned out, they had a different kind of stroller so she didn't wear it
long after all, but I do appreciate it!

This was the theme park I'd been waiting for, even if my feet felt like hell and Tim's entire left
foot was one massive blister. I grew up going to Disneyland on a yearly basis and was dying to
see the differences and similarities.

First off was Adventureland, and we did everything. I prefer Tiki Room Classic to the "under new
management" one with Zazu and Iago, truth be told. Becca loved the jungle boat ride (back side
of water, I used that in a fic) and the Swiss Family treehouse. I discovered the pineapple float,
which was pinapple sherbet floating on pineapple juice, even more refreshing than a lemon

And then was my all-time favorite, the Pirates of the Caribbean! Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for
me! We wants the redhead, send up the redhead! Woo! And more jewels to gloat over in the gift
shop! And all sorts of other goodies and trinkets. We opted for package pickup, and that proved
to be our downfall, resulting in the only major disaster we Morgans experienced during the whole
trip. Bad idea. We would have been better off toting the big bag with us all day.

It's funny but in all the times I've been, I have never once gone to the presidential show. This
time was no different. The Haunted Mansion remains my runner-up fave, though it freaked Becca
a little. Tim slept through the Country Bear Jamboree. We continued our collection of squashed
pennies (the grand total was 27, plus two squashed quarters)

In Fantasyland, while we were in line for the Snow White ride, we glimpsed Greg and Company
(including Siryn and Sara this time) over watching the Merlin thing in front of the carousel. But by
the time we got out, we didn't see them ... until they walked right up to us. They were on their
way over to the toon area but we had a Fast Pass for Splash Mountain and couldn't tag along. I
also thought I spotted them while I was resting my feet as Tim and Becca were in line for
Autopia (or whatever they're calling it these days), but they were gone before I could stir myself
to go say hi.

By then, we were all starting to get more than a little tired and crabby. We got into one of the
last possible fastpass slots for the Buzz Lightyear ride, went on the People Mover (though they
don't call it that anymore either) twice, and lurched on our aching footsies back to Fantasyland to
try and squeeze in a few more rides. I whirled with Becca on the teacups, and then we stood in
the longest line we'd hit for Dumbo of all things. Which was aggravating, because we were under
their tent when the fireworks started and missed the whole show. Then a couple of bratty kids
pushed Becca and took her Dumbo, then held up the ride fidgeting around.

After that, the night utterly went to hell. We hurried for the gate through waiting-for-parade
traffic, and made our fatal mistake. I went to pick up our package, while Tim and Becca went to
drop off the stroller. We planned to meet outside the gate near the Monorail entrance that we'd
take back to the transportation center and then to Epcot, to catch our bus.

That was the plan, anyway. The Monorail part of it also turned out to be the plan of about ten
thousand other people. So I couldn't find them in the crowd. And it had taken me so long at the
package pickup window (smooth efficiency everywhere else in the park, one dinky window for the
packages) that I was sure they must have already gotten on.

They weren't at the transportation center. I got on the train to Epcot, and busted my butt racing
for the bus stop, thinking they must be waiting there and we still had time to catch that 11:30
bus. Saw armadillos in the flowerbeds, startling me. I reached the bus stop in time to see that
they weren't there either, and agonized as the bus arrived. But I couldn't leave without them, so
I watched it go.

Back I went to the Monorail station. And waited. As each successive train came and they still
didn't get off. I chewed off most of my fingernails from stress, and when the last train showed,
still no Tim and Becca. The track traffic controllers took pity on me and helped me call around,
and we eventually found out that they were at City Hall back in the Magic Kingdom, had never
left the park because they were waiting for me.

Those two guys were the nicest darn guys! After closing up their station, they drove me in their
van all the way back to the transportation center, and Tim and Becca caught the last train to
there. So, after two hours of agonizing and worry, we all got together again. Had to cab it back
to the hotel to the tune of 35 bucks (probably more than it should have been because the cabbie
got a call allegedly warning him of a sinkhole and he had to take an alternate route; sounded like
a scam to us, so he didn't get much of a tip).

A wonderful vacation up until that whole mess. But better that it happened at the end instead of
the beginning, and it all worked out okay. We did have to miss out on the McDonald's with the
world's biggest playplace, to Becca's disappointment, because the airport shuttle would be
picking us up at quarter to ten the next day and it was after two by the time we made it back to
our room.

Thus concluded our vacation, except for sleeping on planes most of the next day and arriving
home safely still in time to see Colleen get booted off the island.

Additional Ramblings --

These essays keep getting longer and longer ... a chore for me but one I love to do. I know
there's plenty that I neglected to mention, because even though I was taking notes I must have
missed a lot. Apologies to anyone that I failed to credit and to all those people whose names
slipped my mind (or anyone I named erroneously!).

There were several things I didn't I get to do due to scheduling conflicts, and many people I
didn't get to spend much time with. Among them were: Greg G.'s character design workshop,
Vic's storyboard panel, the custom action figure workshop -- did that one even happen?, Win
Xanatos' Money, and visiting with people like Noel, Coyote, and many other online pals. And somehow I managed to shoot nine rolls of film and still never got a pic of either Greg G. or Vic!

A few folks remarked on it, and yes, I have lost weight since last year. 60 pounds to be precise ...
and I hadn't realized what a difference it made until I saw myself on last year's video. I did it,
believe it or not, with the help of hypnosis.

I practically didn't need to pack any tops, since I came home with ::counts:: FIVE new t-shirts.
Wow! They were: a Jericho Fan Club, a G2001 staff shirt, a MageLore shirt made for me by
Jessie, my official con shirt, and the Villains one I bought at Disney World.

And one of the neatest things for selfish old me about these cons is that people keep giving me _stuff! Like Jessie's great MageLore shirt, or the Jericho magnet by Demona May, or new art by Coyote (Denis -- scan me that pic of Cat, okay?). I'm so spoiled! 

Racked up a pretty good animal tally -- several roaches (maybe they were beetles but they
looked like roaches) as big as my thumb, a dragonfly with a six-inch body length, two fast little
lizards by the outdoor pool, and those two armadillos at Epcot. At first I thought those babies
were ugly possums (there's a redundancy for you), but no, they were 'dillos.

All in all, it was a great vacation and a great con. I'm looking forward to next year, the 5th
Annual Gathering in Los Angeles. The G2001 team is already hard at work planning events and
arranging for guests. Watch for info soon, sign up early, and tell everyone! This is the Big Push,
people, our chance to get the attention of the folks at Disney and show them that while we may
be obsessive lunatics, we are serious obsessive lunatics!

Thank you for bearing with me through this entire mammoth essay! Don't miss the accompanying
Photo Album!

Christine Morgan
August 11, 2000

Previous Essays:
Gathering 97 / Gathering 98 / Gathering 99
MageLore novels / Sabledrake Magazine / Christine's Gargoyles Page
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